As one of the fastest-growing cities in Malaysia after the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru has no shortage of places to visit and sights to see for international tourists. It also has a very close economic relationship and cultural affinity with neighbouring Singapore, and as such, many Singaporeans consider JB—as it is fondly referred to by travellers—an ideal weekend or public holiday getaway from the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitan life.
Below are some of the top reasons why Singaporean travellers may choose to brave even the notorious heavy traffic at the Causeway for a taste of Johor Bahru:
1. Value for Money
By “value for money,” we mean this in a very literal sense: the Singapore dollar to Malaysian ringgit conversion means that most goods are around a quarter to a third of the price when purchased in JB than they would be locally. This includes things like groceries, personal care items, and even petrol. Services, such as having your eyeglasses replaced or even getting some dental work done, are also cheaper in JB than in Singapore. Smart locals typically make use of their weekends getting these errands done in the city, checking in for an overnight stay at a reasonably priced hotel JB and making a staycation of the experience. Big box outlets and malls conduct sales periodically, too, which usually translates into huge savings for Singaporeans who can now buy double the amount of groceries for half the price they would have to pay shopping at a local mart. Now that’s purchasing power.
2. A Myriad of Ways to Get in and Out
You can travel to Johor Bahru from Singapore no less than five different ways: by private car or taxi cab, by taking the bus, hopping on a train, hiring a charter van or bus, or driving yourself over. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages: taking the train is the fastest way to cross over, as you avoid the inevitable traffic jam that can build up over the causeway on the weekends from people who have all had the same bright idea as you have. However, if your aim is to avail of the cheaper products, you’ll have to figure out a way to transport what you buy back into Singapore. There are buses all around Singapore that make regular runs to JB, and the fare is relatively cheap. However, it can be one of the most time-consuming methods to get through – clearing immigration can take hours during peak season. Make sure to do your research ahead of time.
3. Room for Movement
Singapore is a very small country, and space is at a premium here. Singaporeans head to JB when they want to experience wide-open spaces and the variety of outdoor activities available there, such as paintballing, go-karting, or visiting fruit orchards. Johor Bahru is also home to famed theme parks Legoland, the Angry Birds Theme Park, and Hello Kitty Land, all of which are prime destinations for families with small children. In JB, you can also experience horse riding, hiking and jungle treks, as well as the annual Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival, held in February.
4. Your Caffeine Fix, on the Cheap
If you’re the type of Singaporean who loves coffee, coffee culture, or visiting themed cafés—but hate how expensive it can be in the Lion City—JB is the place to indulge yourself. Places like Mok Mok Brunch & Bistro come highly recommended by Singaporeans in the know. The establishment is a short 15-minute drive from the checkpoint with beautifully Instagrammable interiors and a diverse menu selection of dishes guaranteed to satisfy your palate, from savoury rice bowls to souffle pancakes. Thai coffee lovers will feel right at home at 93 Bangkok Coffee, where you can also purchase the self-same beans used in their drinks to take home and brew for yourself. There’s also Flowers in the Window, a botanical-themed café that will please green thumbs and nature enthusiasts alike. They serve healthy entrees along with their excellent coffee—and some of them even come adorned with edible flowers.
5. A Relaxing Retreat
It’s safe to say that everyday life in Singapore can get very tense. Some of the best ways to unwind can be found in Johor Bahru, such as a visit to Desaru Beach, or heading for one of the many spas in the area, some of which can be found right in the city centre. There are also a variety of resorts and wellness centres available for those who really need to get away from it all: the Pulai Springs Country Club comes highly-recommended, as does Walea Spa & Retreat.
With the city’s vibrant culture and exciting attractions, it’s easy to see why Singaporean travellers love JB—enough to brave the horrendous traffic just to get there! Whether you’re going solo or crossing the border as a couple or a family, there’s something in Johor Bahru for everyone to love.